Bullet: The Plot Thickens
Thursday, February 16, 2006
LTC Comment: A
NAELA Medicaid planner in Alabama has sued the federal government to enjoin
enforcement of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. More after the ***news.***
*** TERRY SAVAGE SAYS:
"Stephen -- I've been on the road for the past few days, and never
did take time to send you a HUGE THANK YOU! The book jumped up to about
140 on Amazon.com, so I really think your review had some impact!"
After LTC Bullets reviewed the nationally syndicated financial
columnist's new book The Savage Number:
How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?, it quickly shot up in
Amazon.com's ratings. What better
reason could you have to sponsor an LTC Bullet and get that kind of
wide-reaching publicity for yourself and your company?
To sponsor a Bullet or join the Center, or schedule a training and
motivation conference call or on-site seminar for LTC agents or senior advisors,
contact Steve Moses at 206-283-7036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*** NEED FOR LTC PLANNING:
"A new study in today's New England Journal of Medicine shows
just how stressful caring for a spouse with a debilitating disease can be.
Researchers have found that caregivers whose spouses are hospitalized
with some mentally or physically disabling diseases face as great a risk of
dying themselves as if their sick spouse had died.
The greatest risks are posed by spouses suffering dementia, psychiatric
disease and congestive heart failure, the study found."
(Source: Suzanne Sataline, "Caregiver Mortality Is Linked to Degree of Illness
Spouse's Risk of Death Rises In More Debilitating Cases; Women Face Bigger
Threat," Wall Street
Journal, February 16, 2006,
Page D6, http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB114005917804175541.html;
online subscription required.) LTC
planning won't eliminate the emotional stress of long-term chronic illness but
it can certainly relieve the associated financial stress and open all kinds of
caregiving options for families that are closed to people dependent on public
LTC PARTNERSHIPS: For a generally accurate story about the
expansion of LTC Partnerships by the contentious Deficit Reduction Act, see
"New Law Pushes Long-Term Care Coverage," by Daniel C. Vock of
Stateline.org at http://www.stateline.org/live/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=136&languageId=1&contentId=89158.
We'd qualify such a positive review of the article by saying, however,
that like nearly every other story about the LTC Partnerships, this one also
fails to point out Medicaid's dismal reputation for problems of access, quality,
reimbursement, discrimination and institutional bias.
People encouraged by official government policy to coordinate benefits
between quality private insurance products and a bankrupt public welfare program
like Medicaid should at least be warned of the serious risks to their health and
independence that Medicaid dependency entails. ***
LTC BULLET: THE
LTC Comment: Is
it the law of the land or isn't it? Will
the DRA stop Medicaid abuse, or won't it? Can
LTC Partnerships expand, or not? Here's
how this legislative cliff-hanger stood when last we covered it two days ago.
After months of hearings, razor-thin victories in both
houses of Congress, a miraculously positive Conference Committee report, two
more skin-of-your-teeth wins in both branches, and a signing ceremony at the
White House, a goofy glitch occurred.
While it's still not entirely clear what happened, it seems
a clerical error caused the House--for a second time--to pass a version of the
Deficit Reduction Act that was not identical in every jot and tittle to the
version passed by the Senate.
That's a no-no constitutionally, say opponents of the law,
who've fought it tooth and nail every step of the way.
Just a technicality say proponents, a common mishap in complicated
statutory language often and easily corrected.
But this time, it's different. President Bush signed the bill before the matter was
So, here's the latest.
Yesterday, a Medicaid planning attorney sued Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General of The United States
and Deborah J. Rhodes, U.S. Attorney for The Southern District of Alabama in
federal court challenging "the constitutionality of a federal Act
entitled 'The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005', also known as Senate Bill S. 1932
(herein called 'the Act.')."
The complaint claims that the DRA "was purportedly
signed into law by President George W. Bush on February 8, 2006 to become
effective immediately. The manner of passage of the Act creates a cause of
action for declaratory relief for any person who has an interest in Medicaid
laws for nursing home eligibility, Medicare laws for durable medical equipment,
and other persons affected by the Act. Plaintiff Jim Zeigler alleges that
the Act was not constitutionally enacted in that differing versions passed the
U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. The version that was signed into law by
the President never passed the U.S. House."
The lawsuit alleges that "Zeigler is personally and
substantially hindered in his legal practice because he is uncertain as to
whether to proceed under the previous law, which is constitutional, or the
Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which he alleges is unconstitutional,
unenforceable and null."
For relief, Zeigler's suit "seeks judgment that the
Deficit Reduction Act is unconstitutional, both facially and as applied to the
Plaintiff and his practice of elderlaw, because the Act violates express and
clear requirements of the U.S. Constitution for a bill to become law,
specifically Article I, Section 7." Naturally,
he also wants reimbursement for "attorneys' fees and costs."
Now, let's unravel this situation a little.
What does Congress say about the matter?
According to the Associated Press as reported in today's New
York Times: "Even
though Alabama attorney Jim Zeigler has filed a lawsuit charging the $39 billion
deficit-cutting legislation Bush signed is unconstitutional because the House
and Senate failed to pass identical versions, House GOP leaders insist there's
no problem. 'I believe that it's
law,' said House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo."
According to today's CQ Today, "Republican leaders . .
. have dismissed the legal issues with the case, arguing that the law is valid
because House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Senate President Pro-Term
Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, certified that the bill signed by the president was
Congressional leadership doesn't see a problem.
question, who's stirring the pot? According
to yesterday's Congressional Quarterly, attorney Zeigler who filed the
suit is "a conservative Republican lawyer."
Why would an otherwise supposedly loyal and dedicated Republican fight
his party's leadership in Congress on a matter so critical to the country's
fiscal well being? Who is this guy,
paid a visit to Mr. Zeigler's website at www.jimzeigler.com
to find out. We found a typical
Medicaid planning hustle. For
heading: "Jim Zeigler,
Attorney: Long-Term Planning, Asset
Protection, Medicaid Eligibility"
is now more important than ever to have a legal plan for paying long-term care
costs. There are three ways to
develop such a plan:
1. Attend a FREE WORKSHOP.
2. Order a FREE EVALUATION online.
3. Order my new E-book 'Don't Let the Government take Grandma's Home and Life Savings: 2006 Update.'"
can even save assets for folks ALREADY IN the nursing home or about to go
Workshops on NURSING HOME ELIGIBILITY . . .
Learn How to Get Nursing Home Costs Covered . . . Led by Medicaid
Eligibility Attorneys . . . New Workshop Cities Being Added"
website listed eight workshops scheduled in various Alabama cities between
February 15 and February 21.
you or a loved one is ever admitted to a nursing home, how will you pay the
$4,000 to $7,000 a month costs? Can
you qualify for Medicaid coverage? . . . You
have come to the newest resource for getting nursing home costs paid.
You can receive a FREE no-obligation analysis of your personal situation
for nursing home eligibility. Order
your evaluation for free which would cost you $2,000 to $5,000 from some
EVALUATION OF YOUR LONG-TERM PLANNING FOR NURSING HOME COSTS
(available anywhere in USA) For
a confidential FREE EVALUATION of your eligibility for programs to pay future
nursing home costs, CLICK HERE. Valid
in any US state or territory. FREE
EVALUATION OF YOUR CLAIM (available
anywhere in USA) For a confidential FREE EVALUATION of your claim of $10,000 up,
CLICK HERE. Valid in any US state
Caught shamelessly selling artificial impoverishment to qualify for
public welfare, Medicaid planning attorneys often cover their tracks by removing
offensive, self-incriminating material from their websites.
The preceding quotes were downloaded from Mr. Zeigler's website at 7:15
AM PST on Thursday, February 16, 2006. We
make no contention about what may or may not be at that URL at any later time.)
According to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys'
website at www.naela.org, Mr. Zeigler is a
member of NAELA, which is the national trade association of Medicaid estate
planners. (Verified 9:10 AM PST,
Thursday, February 16, 2006.)
Is it starting to become more clear what's happening?
Medicaid planners all around the country fought to prevent passage of the
Deficit Reduction Act because it derails their welfare-financed gravy train.
They were joined by other groups and organizations with a stake in
preserving Medicaid as financial trough for affluent people at the expense of
the poor, tax payers, LTC providers, and LTC insurers.
We believe that is why Mr. Zeigler misrepresents the DRA by
stating untruthfully in his lawsuit that it "penalizes senior citizens who
are faithful givers to their churches. It makes them ineligible for
Medicaid nursing home coverage until a 'penalty' is paid for every dollar gifted
during five years prior to nursing home admission."
As we've explained in this space many times before, federal law prohibits
imposing a transfer of assets penalty unless the assets were transferred for
less than fair market value and for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid.
That's the story up to the hour. Will the Medicaid planner's lawsuit get traction in the
courts? Can Congressional
leadership carry the argument that the DRA is law?
Who else will join the fray? Why
aren't the LTC providers and insurers, whose livelihoods are threatened by
Medicaid planning abuse, speaking up?
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.
We'll keep Center for Long-Term Care Reform members updated by email on
every twist and turn.